Communication is the transfer of information, feelings, signals and behaviours and ideas, and as such, is paramount to all relationships. We need far more than just words to communicate effectively. Research has shown people pay far more attention to body language, facial expression, tone and pitch of voice than to spoken word, therefore in the health and social care sector it is vital to be aware of the different ways in which we communicate and the barriers to communication.
Failure to communicate effectively may lead to the breakdown of a relationship and ultimately a lack of trust, between the service provider and service user.
There are two theories of communication, Tuckman’s theory states that communication happens in four stages; Forming, Storming, Norming and performing. This can be seen frequently within the health and social care sector, for example between a group of people (family and medical professionals) discussing the care of a dementia sufferer. The group forms to discuss the best plan of action, moves on to storming to share opinions and ideas of what will benefit the patient which leads on to norming once an agreement is reached then finally the performing stage where any necessary actions are taken and the conversation moves forward. While this theory is great for group communication it could fall flat in one to one communication.
The second theory is Argyle’s theory of communication. This states communication is Coding, Transmission and Decoding, and at any time the communication can be distorted and interpreted wrong. This must be considered in the health and social care setting, as dealing with such a wide spectrum of people, with a range of different needs is an everyday occurrence. As an example of this theory in action a care worker is explaining the emergency procedure to a new resident but the new resident is hearing impaired so cannot decode the message properly. In order to overcome this barrier and get the transmission across several things should be considered, not only the tone of voice, body language and hand gestures but does the resident have a hearing aid, is it on the right setting, could we use sign language or symbols instead. As a health and social care worker it is your job to make sure everything is understood by the person you are caring for and if communication breaks down you must find ways to overcome it.
One to one communication is used in many health and social care settings such as a doctor patient consultation, often in this one to one setting personal details are discussed such as illnesses and available treatments. Given the nature of discussion in this setting it is important to make the patient feel at ease, so many factors must be taken in to consideration; the tone and pitch of the doctor’s voice, the doctor should speak firmly and confidently but with warmth. The way the seating is set up can also impact on communication, in most doctors surgery’s the seating is set up so the doctor is on an angle, not facing the patient head on as this may cause the patient to feel intimidated and thus cause a breakdown